THE SOUND OF SCANDINAVIA
We took some time to speak with one of Copenhagen’s finest artists, Anders Trentemøller, about becoming a father, his creative process, and sometimes being afraid of the gear he has accumulated over the years. Few artists have managed to capture the dark melancholic atmosphere of Scandinavia as well as Trentemøller. Over the years, his sound has developed from a one-man show into a full band live experience, all the while maintaining his trademark intimate details and subtle nuances.
Hi Anders, Thank you for taking your time talking to us, really appreciate it!
Is your new album ‘Obverse’ the most introspective album you’ve done so far?
I don’t think so, I guess I see all my albums as being both in- and extrovert at the same time.
But it’s definitely a more studio oriented album where I explore all the sonic possibilities in the studio rather than thinking about whether this can be recreated live. That was mainly because my little son was born eleven months ago and I didn’t want to go out on a big tour playing the music with the band while my girlfriend and son were at home, I wanted to be together with them. So that was quite a big decision, but something I didn’t regret, especially now the Corona virus suddenly hit the world in March where we normally would start a tour. So somehow I was lucky that I decided, for the first time, not to tour at all.
You have always changed your direction from album to album but still kept a coherent redline through your sound. Did you ever feel lost or scared in the constant progress or does it naturally come out sounding like you no matter your approach?
Actually, I never plan how my next album will sound or feel, it’s simply the music that dictates the direction. Somehow it just feels quite natural how the music flows, I try not to look back on what I did earlier but on the other hand I don’t plan anything.
In your new album ‘Obverse’ you have chosen the angle of production rather than the angle of trying to make it work for a live performance. As most of us know, it’s really hard to re-create a well sounding mirror on such a form of an album on stage. What setups do you dream of that would combine those two worlds between ‘live’ and ‘production’ in a perfect balance?
I actually think I found a good way of doing it with my last studio albums live wise. I produce the music, re-arrange for the band, and then we play the songs so it feels natural for the band. I don’t want the music to sound exactly the same as on the records, we kind of take the core of each song and build it up so it fits for the band. I like all my songs to be playable on a piano or a guitar and that’s it, so the melodies and chord progressions are super important of course and then I rearrange the songs quite heavy sometimes… it’s nearly like remixing yourself for the live stage ha ha!
You’ve have become a father (congratulations!), have it it moved any perspectives in your view of the world?
Hmmmm… yeah, I think that I have felt so much love that I never really felt that deep before… But I don’t think it really changed my music that much. Actually, it probably got even more noisy – maybe as a reaction to all the diapers, vomit and sleepless nights, ha ha.
There is a very few ‘electronic’ artist that have dared and managed to change direction from their first initial success onto something very different. You and James Holden are in this group of artists and i cant help to see the resemblance between both of your works. What do we have to make a collaboration between you and James Holden happen and do you feel its hard to collaborate with other producers since your own sound on productions is so distinct?
I actually don’t know that much of James Holden’s music, but yeah, I rather work on my own mostly. Of course, I have worked with great artists that I admire because of their music but it’s all because I can’t sing that great myself ha ha … But yeah, I have never worked with another producer… somehow I didn’t feel the urge to do it really.
How has the long and dark Scandinavian winters effected your creative output?
Quite a lot I think!! My favourite time of the year is autumn, I just love the colours, the darkness, the storm, the rain … the smells… the nature slowly degenerating… it’s quite beautiful I think. And it’s the perfect time for being in the studio or going to a remote place to write music.
“Sometimes I tend to be scared of my studio in a way… all those instruments and outboard gear… It’s weird because I also love it and use it all the time.”
You’ve lately found a new love to the peaceful Swedish country side. As an artist, we tend to overthink everything we do and with that getting lost from the original idea that initially sparked the creativity. How have these little escapes into the peace and distance helped you?
Definitely! Sometimes I tend to be scared of my studio in a way… all those instruments and outboard gear… It’s weird because I also love it and use it all the time. But especially in the writing process I like to really focus on the song writing, so most of the songs are written at my upright piano in the studio or with a midi keyboard and my laptop in some cabin in the woods.
Melancholic electronic music wasn’t really on the radar til your sound entered the scene and it added another new dimension for a lot of other artist. What inspired you to come up with something so completely different from everything else at that time?
I have never listened to other electronic artists really… Other than Suicide, which I fucking love so much!!! They really inspired me, because they made their music sound so rough, aggressive and noisy without the use of guitars and still it’s so damn punk!! But I also listened and still do, to the Swedish jazz pianist Jan Johansson while making my debut album…he has that Scandinavian blue tone in his music… Especially on the album Jazz På Svenska, which is his interpretation of old Swedish folk songs. Such a beautiful and melodic album.
You are using distortion as an instrument in your production, whats your latest pedal gear and which ones are your favourites?
Oh, I have too many pedals ha ha ….right now I just got Death By Audios new stereo reverb pedal called Rooms and it sounds amazing!! Really lush, dark and dreamy… perfect for that shoe gaze / dream pop vibe. And I love that you can pitch modulate the reverb to get those chorus like effects.
What did you learn in the process of creating your new album ‘Obverse’ ?
I always learn new stuff… Maybe I learned not to focus on whether the music is actually playable live … because, as we talked about earlier, I didn’t need to go out and be able to play this music live. But I must admit I really really miss playing live, so my next album will definitely be played on a tour again.
What is the sound of Scandinavia for you?
The old Scandinavian folk songs, the old lullabies.
Name 3 of your favourite productions by other producers/artist?
I’m a HUGE fan of Tchad Blake, really love how he mixes!!! The Black Keys ‘Brothers’ album is a good example, sounds soooooo good!!!
I love the sound that Kevin Shields creates with My Bloody Valenties!!!! Nothing beats that wall of sound.
And third I really like how the Broadcast albums sounded!!! They all were brilliant and one of my favorites must be the ‘Tender Buttons’ album.
If you could change the world with one sentence, what would you say?
No more hate!
Thank you for taking the time to speak with us and we hope to see you soon somewhere on a stage!
Thanks and yeah… Hopefully we can hit the streets with the next album (-: